New Taramakau bridge ‘promised’

Brendon McMahon

It is “about time” a replacement Taramakau road-rail bridge is announced, although revealing the plan just out from a general election is “interesting” timing, Westland Mayor Mike Havill says.
“Let’s hope it comes to fruition,” Mr Havill said.
The Government yesterday announced replacing the Taramakau bridge during its pre-election conference as part of a $212 million package for 14 State highway projects, which diverts some road money back to the regions.
The Taramakau replacement is estimated to cost $10-15 million and construction could start as early as 2016.
However, Labour said it was strange that after six years in office, the National Government had “suddenly decided” just three months before the election to return some of the funding it took from the regions to pay for its $12 billion ‘roads of national significance’.
Leader David Cunliffe said Labour had made it clear that regional road funding needed to be restored in conjunction with other strategies to boost the regions.
“Unlike National, Labour is seriously committed to growing our regions, now and into the future,” Mr Cunliffe said.
Mr Havill said replacement of the bridge, which restricted the size of heavy vehicles and was a hazard for cyclists on the West Coast Wilderness Trail, “will be fantastic”.
He also welcomed the road funding u-turn, which was particularly relevant given the struggle West Coast councils had as a result of the Government siphoning off money from the regions through a “one size fits all” policy.
“I think it’s definitely long overdue and if they’re going to consider the funding area by area, rather than the one size fits all approach, then it will give me a little bit more confidence that we will be able to maintain what we have,” Mr Havill
The current formula, under which the West Coast had been projected to lose even more, might suit densely populated centres but it was untenable for a large district like Westland with such a low population.
He noted that the Otira Viaduct was first mooted 25 years ago, among other projects, and it was amazing how quickly people had come to “take that for granted,” he said.
National Party list MP Chris Auchinvole welcomed the funding boost, which he said would enable replacement of the bridge.
The new two-lane bridge would have room for cyclists, and with a separate rail bridge, he said.